After waking up early, driving down to Ocala, and observing my friend spread the love of music and teaching, I was ready to decompress in a quiet room. The introverted side of me was screaming for a break. This makes me think of a movie like Inside Out with all the emotions fighting for control in the brain. I am a lover of Disney and Pixar movies. Ask me about that later.
During my planning of my trips this year, I decided that I was going to embrace the sharing economy as much as possible. This means booking with AirBnb and even using Uber in place of a Rental Car. When I first read about AirBnb, I was a little wary of the idea because of the possibility of any number of awkward situations. I will admit, however, after reading the full Terms on the website, I am convinced that normal people can use the service safely. “We interrupt this blog to remind you that reading the Terms for any service you use is a good idea, especially when it is a ‘paradigm shifting’ idea. We now return you to some guy talking about a house or something…”
My home for this particular evening was a beautiful home built in the 1940s which had been recently upgraded to ensure the modern conveniences. The home was located just a few miles from the church and was easy to find (thank you Google Maps) even though it was in the “tiny grid” of historic Ocala. I met the host, David, who was happy to show me around the rather large house. The size and shape of the house was intriguing as my exposure to an aged home is rather limited. My dad and I visited a house that was built in the early 1900s with a real wood-burning stove where the kitchen was a separate building. My dad knew the house when it was under the care of one of the decedents of the original owners. Unfortunately, my experience was a little less than exciting that day.
This house, however, was marvelous. The brick on the outside and the hardwood floors were more than comforting. I live in an extremely modern world with automatic soap dispensers and internet-enabled televisions. With all the glory of simpler times, a presence took shape as I explored the space. The bedroom was pretty normal with small lights on each side of the bed. Only the small TV with a ROKU stick distracted from the elegance. Keep in mind, I was happy to have that TV once I was done with all the thinking and observing. I made my way to the backyard via the spacious kitchen. It was both comforting and disheartening to see the many glasses and flatware all displayed in open shelves. The old-fashioned ideas that we do love clash with my Minimalist aspirations. A vacation is not the place to worry about such things, so I proceeded to view the backyard. A small bistro-style table and chair were placed on the oversized wrap-around deck. The view from the table included the small, stylish pool in the center of the yard. After unpacking a few things for the night, I found myself almost napping in the middle of the day.
I quickly realized how tired I was after a couple hours on that comfy bed and ordered a couple of slices of pizza from the local Italian place. Having food delivered to someone else’s home is a bit of an experience. I made my way over to that little table I had found earlier and just breathed in the fresh air and the quiet. I cannot emphasize enough the power of a quiet area outside to just be. No one is watching and you can just breathe. (OK, William, lots of breathing, I get it)
My deep breathing (too much?) was interrupted by the other half of the hosting team. This was David’s wife and I honestly can’t remember her name. She could have been the older sister of a friend I had lost track off in the past couple of years. So all I could think of was my friend. The brain, or at least my brain, is strange like that. She was polite enough to engage in some basic conversation with me while she prepared their dinner. After a short chat, I actually learned that David was a music minister at one of the local churches. This was especially interesting to me because my friend that I had come to visit is also a music minister at his church. I almost immediately texted my friend and he was more than excited that I had “bumped into” this person. In my yearning for adventure, I had discovered this person that my friend had met and knew more about than I ever learned in my brief conversation. Call it Fate or Destiny. I call it God placing interesting people in my life at just the right time. I had become this unintentional middle-man for these two acquaintances. I ended the night by relaxing with some Netflix and then went to bed.
After one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a while, I awoke to the soft sounds of the birds outside. This particular AirBnb included a light breakfast, which I was grateful to have! I repeated my visit outside to see the birds and the sky become a beautiful blue. Maybe it was because I felt safe, maybe it was because I had finally slept correctly, maybe because I was taking in every detail on purpose, but my trip’s beginning was more relaxing then I could have imagined. I was sad to see this wonderful home get smaller in the rearview mirror as I started my journey to South Florida. I knew I would be back the next day, but as you know, it is not the same the second time. I exited the historic section of downtown towards the outskirts. The intersections became gigantic and created angles I had not seen since 10th grade geometry. I accelerated up the Interstate ramp (in Sport Mode, naturally) and settled in for what should have been a quick ride at high speeds. Little did I know that thrills and spills awaited me along the way…